Saturday, January 27, 2018

Badger State Games: Nordic Skiing

            Rachael and I arrived at Nine Mile only 15 minutes before our race was set to start after being delayed that morning.  We quick picked up our shirts and bibs, had a bathroom break, ran shirts back to the vehicle, and put our skis on for the very first time ever, with only 3 minutes to spare before the 21K classic was starting! Crazy!
My first fall was just after we got started, which was followed by many more (at least TWELVE to be more precise)! We also missed a turn at the bottom of a hill (it was poorly marked). We would have had really fast times if it weren’t for all those delays! The course was really icy and scary even.  In fact, when I saw a caution sign at the top of one hill, a lady, who was an experienced skier, suggested taking off our skis and carrying them down the hill – and that’s exactly what I did! I had no advantage (except that I didn’t die at the bottom) so I hope that wasn’t breaking any rules. Prior to that hill, I had a couple really bad wipeouts, one in which I think I left some skin behind on the icy trail.  I was hurting so bad at that point, that I was terrified of the downhills!
            Going up the hills was a struggle and we got worked.  It was a lot of upper body.  The second half of the course was less intense and the flatter sections with gentler hills were actually a lot of fun.  All of the big hills seemed to always have a sharp turn at the bottom of them too. The race was a lot more technical, and slick, than I was anticipating.
            All of my training had been on waxless skis on non-groomed trails, which was pretty slow going and much more controlled.  This was nothing like that! We borrowed wax skis. The course was groomed with big hills, and it was warm the previous day, which iced everything over.  It was a completely different ball game.  We did really well though and ended up 5th and 6th overall (I was 3rd in my age group and Rachael was 1st in hers)! There were a lot of laughs, bruises, and exhaustion, but it was a worthwhile experience.  As Rachael put it, “It’s great to do something with the goal of just finishing!” My body is in a great deal of pain but the memories and laughs will outlast that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Off to the Races!

            January 27th will mark the day of my first cross-country ski race! I’ll be going down to Wausau for winter Badger State Games with a friend and fellow track coach. I did a lot of skiing last year (averaged 4-5x/week) and skied a lot between Christmas and New Years this year, but have since discovered that the reality of skiing with 3 littles is next to impossible.  I did it once by myself with Rowyn in the front pack, be he has outgrown that.  The straps for the back carrier interfere with the harness of the chariot and Baya said she can’t hang on the back for very long if I pull her on her skis behind it.  She does love using her skis on her own though!
Nice scenery for skiing!
            So now I’ve been going once/week by myself for a long ski and been working up to 2 hours. I’m counting on swim/bike/run fitness to get me the rest of the way. I’m still on non-groomed trails and have waxless skis, so my pace is far from impressive, and I look forward to seeing what it will be like in a race.  It may very well take me a long time. We are dong the 21K (roughly a half-marathon) classic ski race.  If I don’t line up wax skis for us, I’ll pick up some wax that is designed for waxless skis.  Nevertheless, I think it will be a fun experience!
            I love BSG events, so I’m glad this is the race I’ll be doing.  It will be my 4th different BSG event (duathlon, swimming, and track thus far), but my first winter one! Since December, I have been training, and it feels great.  Skiing will be a fun adventure as my focus on the next big thing intensifies.  I’ll announce what that will be soon!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hunger Pains

            I’m craving competition.  I’m feeling strong again and I’m getting restless with just working out.  I’m tempted to do a ski race (for fun and for the challenge of it).  Logistically, 3 kids will be a lot tougher to train with for skiing than 2 were.  There is also a USATF indoor track meet that I am eyeing.  Even without any jumps practice, I’m tempted to do it anyway.  The drive to the Twin Cities for it, and juggling things with 3 littles is a turn-off though.
Skiing Nov 11th this year! (The only day we could so far)
            I’ve been swimming REALLY well and working on building up some run mileage again (shooting for over 20 miles/week right now).  I feel so good in the pool, strong and FAST, that it makes me want to do triathlons again.  Feeling strong makes a big difference.  It’s not just the weight lifting, it’s also having my iron levels up.  My body doesn’t feel as fatigued.  My engine is firing on all cylinders.  My last year (or 2) of racing, I didn’t feel strong.  I felt like I was just trying to push through it.  My best races were when I would get off the bike and felt strong, even if I just biked 56 miles.  After having Myles, I never really felt that way again.  Even workouts were a challenge.  I just didn’t feel good.  After World’s in Cozumel, I thought I was really just retiring from the sport altogether.  This past year off was necessary, but now that I’m feeling good, it has me thinking about it again.
            I ran a super low-key Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving with my husband. We started conservatively (granted it was also 20 degrees out and slick with a dusting of snow).  A Cross Country girl took it out fast and held the lead for over a mile before we started closing the gap.  With over a mile to go, we left her behind.  But it’s not the win that gets me. After all, you can’t determine who is going to show up on race day.  But it’s how I felt overtaking her.  I comfortably pushed.  I felt good.  I felt strong (23:53 helps that feeling – heck, I once ran a whole marathon at that pace in my prime!). It’s not the pace; it’s the feeling.  It’s being able to make the last mile, the fastest mile.  It’s about being able to be aggressive at the end, to be able to push when it’s time to push.  It’s all about feeling strong. Now I just need something to work towards.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brit's Pub Vault '17

I ended the track and competition season with Brit’s Pub Vault – one of the sweetest venues I’ve seen.  Arriving there, I knew that even if the day didn’t go well, it’d still be a cool experience.  I was right.  Brit’s Pub is located in downtown Minneapolis.  It’s a couple stories tall.  They have a rooftop patio and lawn, upon which was a raised runway and pit.  It was beautiful!  It was their fourth year, my first. 
            The weather was perfect.  All of the Master’s (meaning those over 30) vaulted together at 9:30am – 12 men and 2 women.  I haven’t vaulted much in August, after all, track has been done and we are three weeks into the volleyball season already!  I made 10-6 for the day, and while I hoped for 11 feet, I don’t have any real complaints.  I felt great in warm-ups and over 10-6, and it was just nice to be jumping again.  It was also sad to officially close out the season.
            Thanks to those that came out for the event to cheer me on: Andy, my mom, a cousin and her fiancĂ©, and Katie (who just finished her triathlon season at Nationals where she qualified for World’s!).  While I didn’t make big heights, at least I ended the season as the Women’s Master’s Champion at Brit’s Pub Vault!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Effects of "Juicing"

            I haven’t been doing much in the way of triathlon since the World Championships last September.  I’ve ridden my cruiser bike, usually pulling kids, occasionally.  Running has mainly just been sprinting with track.  Although I did a couple distance workouts in July and loved how it made me feel.  I miss that part about tri training – feeling so exhausted.  It’s motivating.  I’ve also done a few distance runs up to 3 miles that were fairly slow. 
            I try to swim twice a week, but have gone weeks without, but that’s where I started to notice a change first.  That, and being able to complete Crossfit workouts without feeling like I was lightheaded and quickly short of breath.  In my final seasons of triathlon, I had been getting frustrated with swimming (and all training really) because I could not hit the times/paces that I used to.  Sometimes not even close.  But my swim times started dropping recently – with a mix of old and new workouts.  I was feeling powerful in the water like I used to.  I was getting faster.  In one of my new workouts, I was hitting times faster than I ever have in a workout – and within 1 second of my 100 time in my swim meet, during my fastest swimming time in my life.  Was this the iron treatments kicking in?  I didn’t feel lightheaded, and I felt strong in both lungs and muscles.
            So I recently did a couple progression runs (this spring, getting under 10 minute pace was a big deal), and my final mile times dropped to 8:12, 7:55, and then 7:32.  I ran a timed mile and ran 6:33, and while that’s not my old 6 minute mile time, I’ve also hardly been running.  I still want to keep things low key with only 2 swims per week and now upping to 3 runs/week.  I don’t want to go crazy and push too hard, too fast, or feel like I need to return to a heavy load of training, but I start to wonder… “What’s possible?”  I haven’t asked that of myself in a long time.  I thought triathlons weren't even going to enter my mind again.
            I could not have done triathlons this summer.  My body was not ready.  The iron treatments I believe have changed everything though.  It took nearly 5 months after having Rowyn, but I finally feel GOOD, like I should. I’m on daily iron pills and will need to be retested in follow-up appointments but I'm on the right track.  Speaking of which, taking this past summer to focus solely on track has also been refreshing, and a much-needed mental break.  I’m hoping good things lie ahead – whatever they may be.